Under 16 Mid Lincs League - Alford Town 2, Hykeham Tigers 1
This U16 Mid Lincs League encounter was more like the Battle of the Somme than a football match as conditions made it very difficult for both sets of players to keep their feet. Although to their credit, both Alford and Hykeham tried to play football and at times succeeded.
This was a real scrap in the mud between two well matched sides and the team with the greater spirit was always going to come out on top.
Hykeham started the brighter, brimming with confidence from their unbeaten season so far, but gradually Alford got to grips with proceedings and a goalless first half was a fair reflection of the evenly contested play.
Alford definitely came out of the traps the quicker in the second period and despite the surface began to impose their passing game on the opposition.
The breakthrough came 10 minutes into the half when Leighton Jarratt burst down the left hand side and put an excellent ball across the Hykeham penalty area.
Richie Hayes, making a late run, got to the ball first and coolly slotted it home to give the home team the lead.
Hykeham battled to try and level the scores but the Alford back line and in particular, their goalkeeper Joe Marshall were having none of it.
When he got injured and had to leave the field with about an hour gone, Alford looked up against it and Hykeham came on strong as they sensed an advantage.
Sure enough they managed to equalise when a clearance from Alford’s replacement goalkeeper struck a forward and bounced kindly for him to strike the ball into an empty net.
It was going to be hard for Alford to regain the initiative and at times they had to defend heroically. However, the more the game went on the more they began to create opportunities of their own as they passed the ball with purpose through a sea of mud.
Indeed they now looked the more likely to grab a winner.
This they duly did five minutes before the end of normal time. Callum Wadley, who was causing the Hykeham defenders no end of problems, charged down a clearance on the away team’s goal-line, following extended pressure, and the whole Alford side and its supporters were delighted to see the ball end up in the net.
Alford managed to see out the large amount of injury time and could even have added to their lead before the final whistle. Both sets of players had given their all, but the home side thoroughly deserved all the spoils. The team had shown great spirit and commitment and must now take that into their final games of the season.